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Opportunities to Transform: Continuing UC San Diego’s Extraordinary Evolution

September 22, 2016

Welcome, new and returning campus members. This is more than the beginning of the academic year; it’s the beginning of our transformation. Big and exciting changes are ahead – from new construction to ambitious fundraising. We are upgrading everything we do, not resting on our laurels. And we need every one of you to keep us at the top of our game.

Our longest-running tradition at UC San Diego is challenging tradition. We do things differently here. It’s why we attract the most clever creatives and innovative thinkers. It’s why we make advances and breakthroughs that benefit humankind and our planet. And it’s why, despite our relative youth compared to our peers, we continually rank among the world’s top universities. We are trendsetters, risk-takers and visionaries. And we have big plans. Our Strategic Plan created our unified vision and ambitious goals – we are nurturing next-generation trendsetters, pushing the frontiers of knowledge, protecting our planet and enriching human life.

Top rankings

  • #1 public university in the nation for contributions to public good based on research, social mobility and service, 7 years in a row, Washington Monthly
  • #5 university in the nation for total research output based on contributions to Nature Indexjournals in 2015
  • #14 best university in the world, 4 years in a row, 2016 Academic Ranking of World Universities

Seizing the opportunity to transform our campus

As we work to achieve our ambitions, we are approaching a turning point in our history – a convergence of three factors which provide an opportunity to revision and revitalize our campus and strategically plan for the campus we’d like to be. These three factors, which will occur in the next five years, are: 1) the updating of UC San Diego’s Long Range Development Plan; 2) the arrival of Light Rail Transit to campus; and 3) the expansion of our student population, which could approach 40,000 students. Our campus must evolve to keep up with these changes. We will need more student housing, classrooms, laboratories, clinical facilities, faculty and faculty offices. This is also an opportunity to enhance the student experience.

Expanding to support teaching, research and patient care

As we’ve been updating our Long Range Development Plan, we are collaborating with Tritons across campus. We are discussing teaching, research and clinical needs with academic leadership and faculty. We are holding town hall meetings to seek input from students, staff and faculty on creating a new living and learning community. And we are developing work plans to share visioning ideas and seek feedback. We are focused on thinking ahead and meeting the continually changing needs of our campus members, and fostering the best possible living, learning and working environment.

Our evolution is already emerging. Just look around and you’ll see that our campus has started to physically transform with numerous buildings, either newly opened or under construction – from the Jacobs Medical Center and Outpatient Pavilion to the Biological and Physical Sciences building. We are steadfastly increasing student housing; current plans are to add 10,000 new beds on campus, including 5,000 that will be completed by 2021, and to price them below market. We know that housing is expensive in San Diego, and we want to help our students by providing affordable housing.

Student housing

We also want to take it a step further and provide students with the amenities they need. The student experience is about more than living on campus. It’s about being part of an active and thriving campus that has a strong sense of community and interaction. Our town hall meetings and conversations are beginning to inform the concept development for a new campus neighborhood that would combine student housing, classrooms, academic buildings, restaurants and retail, all within mixed-use facilities for ease of living and learning and promotion of collaboration and discourse. The new project would be built between the Faculty Club and North Torrey Pines Road on the current site of the inefficient single-level parking lots P207 and P208, and would provide even more parking spots than we currently have there. Once completed, the living and learning community would provide a new permanent home for our Sixth College, which has remained in its temporary space since 2002. As our student population continues to grow and we strive to maintain the small college experience for our students with the benefits of a large public research university, it is vital that we evaluate and evolve our campus infrastructure. We will accomplish this while also adhering to the University of California system-wide goal of Carbon Neutrality by 2025. To achieve our target, we will need the participation of all members of the campus community.

Light Rail Transit addition simulation
Simulation of West Campus Pepper Canyon Light Rail Transit

Read about the recent progress toward our Strategic Plan goals

Creating campus gateway to enhance community connection

The addition of the Light Rail Transit at UC San Diego in 2021 provides us with further potential to flourish, as it will open our campus to the greater community and offer our campus members an easier way to commute and travel around our region. We want to seize this unique opportunity to create a university entry that will welcome campus members and visitors alike. Right now, there is no one major entrance onto our campus. The trolley will change that as Pepper Canyon, essentially a back door to campus, will be converted to our “front door.” It will become a gateway entrance, thus prompting the need to build up the area between the trolley stop and our campus downtown neighborhood, re-energizing that whole area to provide a more inviting introduction to UC San Diego. Our goal is to create a true university feel as people step off the trolley – from a long pathway that leads trolley riders to the center of campus, to a showcase of interactive campus work, to green space where students, faculty, staff and visitors can relax and interact. We also plan to make the center of campus more pedestrian and bicycle friendly. As we continue discussions and visioning on all of our potential projects, we know that private support will be key in fulfilling our physical transformation to support our growing campus.

Advancing research to benefit our global society

Philanthropy will also be crucial in supporting our intellectual evolution and academic foundation. We are on the edge of pioneering discoveries in numerous fields – from arts and humanities to physical and social sciences to medicine and engineering – and we are mobilizing in ground-breaking domains. In the last year, we advanced our research enterprise through the creation of nearly a dozen new centers and initiatives, many of which are capitalizing on our breadth and strengths across disciplines, significantly advancing our efforts. Ushering us into a new era of inquiry and innovation in earth, ocean and atmospheric exploration, America’s newest research vessel Sally Ride recently arrived at her new San Diego homeport. The vessel, which is operated by UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography and owned by the U.S. Navy, is one of the world’s most technologically advanced ships and will revolutionize our understanding of our planet.

People greeting R/V Sally Ride

Making San Diego a global destination for health

The soon-to-open, state-of-the-art Jacobs Medical Center will change the landscape of healthcare delivery by further integrating patient care with cutting-edge research advances. We are able to set this new course for healthcare because of the extraordinary generosity of Joan and Irwin Jacobs, as well as Pauline Foster, Evelyn and Ernest Rady, and Carol Vassiliadis whose leadership gifts support our new specialty pavilions, and the more than 1,000 people who donated to this new center. The rapid addition of the Jacobs Medical Center, Altman Clinical and Translational Research Institute, and Outpatient Pavilion – which is still under construction – will transform our La Jolla campus into a global destination for health. At the same time, we are already starting to work on the renewal of UC San Diego Health in Hillcrest, a critical element of our commitment to provide leading-edge healthcare for our community, and continuing to expand our network of affiliates, including hospitals and physician networks.

Jacobs Medical Center
Jacobs Medical Center

Seeking support to fulfill our impactful vision

UC San Diego experienced a truly amazing year in FY 15-16, in terms of productivity, fundraising and beginning our transformation. For the first time in UC San Diego history, private support reached $212 million last year. This March, we will announce the public phase of The Campaign for UC San Diego; the campaign’s $2 billion fundraising goal is bold, ambitious and historic, a first-of-its-kind goal for any university in San Diego. I’m confident we are up for the challenge, especially since it will help us to make a positive difference in the lives of our students, faculty, staff and our greater community, transforming our campus and, in turn, our world. Our fundraising priorities will support important initiatives across campus – from scholarships and fellowships to research, faculty support and new buildings. Over the coming months and years, we will continue to grow our donor base by telling our story and getting people excited about our goals and vision. We want people to understand that their investments in UC San Diego will be returned in many ways – through life-saving discoveries, through the development of students into leaders, through economic growth and prosperity for all. Gifts to UC San Diego truly transform lives and communities, and our Chancellor’s Associates Scholars Program is a prime example. Our donors have made it possible for us to nearly double our number of Chancellor’s Associates scholars this year. For that, I am truly grateful, and I welcome our 184 new scholars this fall, bringing our campus total to 356 scholars.

We have an amazing opportunity ahead to transform our campus and our community, and to build a culture of philanthropy. And you can help us, as our campus members and best advocates. Spread the word about the great things happening at UC San Diego – from our high academic rankings to our life-saving discoveries and planet-changing impact. Our progress is possible because of you and our supporters who believe in our work. Thank you for being part of our extraordinary team and our world-class university.

With kind regards,


Pradeep K. Khosla